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The Platform of love - Rasmancha

Published May 20, 2022
Updated Oct 26, 2022

📍 🇮🇳 The Platform of love

King Bir Hambir (r. 1565-1620 CE), ruler of a large part of the Gangetic delta region, was responsible for many architectural feats at Bishnupur, West Bengal. An excerpt from his own writing will explain why:

“What can I say at your feet, O my lord Shrinivasa, since you have satisfied my inner longing? Before I was a worm of worldly possessions that tasted sweet, but you have demolished my kingly pride….”

The result?

The humble and intricate “Rasmancha” arcades - “rasa mancha” meaning, literally, the “platform for purging one’s emotions”. Moved by the saintly presence of Vaishnava Shrinivasa Acharya, the legend goes that King Bir Hambir had become his disciple. Bishnupur’s culture changed accordingly, as it became more of a temple town in the 17th- 18th centuries.

The conspicuous Rasmancha shrine stands on a spacious laterite square plinth topped by a spacious pyramidal roof. Below, three successive galleries that one approaches through a series of arches. In earlier times, all the icons worshiped in Bishnupur temples were exhibited here during festivals.

One cannot deny the contribution of Islamic and European forms in the graceful terracotta tiles or in the horseshoes-shaped arcades. This is the visual reflection of the type of trading flows that defined these centuries. Local population and oriental merchants gradually moved to the fertile Gangetic plains, and while doing so, brought with them their terracotta tradition (almost prehistoric in the Indus valley). Rasmancha is a shining outcome of these secular dynamics.

____ Sources ____

>> Marg, A Magazine of the Arts, volume 54 number 3, March 2003

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16th CE